Before Shouting from the Rooftops, Wait for the Evidence
This post is adapted from a press release review by Health News Review.
Health News Review gave this press release about a new implantable weight loss device a four out of ten. Problems HNR found included that the release does not quantify the benefits of the device, mention costs, explain the harms, or establish the true novelty of the device. While the release does state that trials were done in rats, it could also make clearer that most animal trials fail to translate to humans.
When writing or speaking about your research for public consumption, whether it’s part of an interview by a reporter or for your own social media channels, learn from the problems of this release and:
- Quantify the benefits of your device, drug, or intervention. This press release claimed “several advantages over an existing unit,” but as the trial was done in rats and the current unit is FDA-approved for use in humans, they are hard to compare. Include caveats like this.
- Discuss the costs. This release does not mention that the existing device can cost more than $20,000. Although still in early testing, do the researchers have an idea of whether the cost for the new device will be higher or lower?
- Include harms or potential harms. Users of the existing device have reported harms such as nausea, heartburn, and chest pain. The release should have noted that the new device could present similar risks.
- Accurately describe novelty. Because the two devices have not been compared in a trial, the claim that the new device will be more effective and easier to use cannot be validated.